Larry Jordan

Everyone is related, and everything is connected.

Income Taxes Part VII: Volunteer Recognition

Jul 18, 2022 by Larry Jordan, in Taxes
The other day, I stumbled across some comments that I made at a dinner for people who volunteered doing taxes. I had not thought about the dinner for years, and I was struck by how prophetic my comments were.

This dinner was before Charlottesville or family separation or the George Floyd killing or the Muslim ban or the tax cuts for the rich. Still, disabled folks, immigrants, LGBTQ folks, people of color, poor folks, and sick folks knew that Trump was going to carpet-bomb them. Sadly, I did, too.

Doing taxes introduced me to a lot of people and situations that I never encountered in my sheltered life, and it made me a better citizen (and a better person.)

“Hi, my name is Larry Jordan. I’ve worked over 1,000 tax returns in the last ten years. You do it, too, so you know that it's mentally challenging, and it's emotionally challenging. Also, you know that it’s really important work.

It’s very personal work. For many people, filing taxes is the worst thing that they do all year, and this year may have been the worst year of all their years. I’m glad that we were there to help people during the worst hour of their worst year.

We see every kind of person, from the proud father who brings his 16-year-old son to file his first tax return to the distraught son who helps his deceased father to file his last tax return.

We see every citizenship status, every employment situation, and every healthcare situation, and we have great stories to tell.

We see tremendous suffering, and we see the dazzling radiance of the human spirit.

We see people in overwhelming circumstances who have hope and resolve. My last client suffered a disabling injury, the death of his wife, and the loss of his job. I don’t recall any anger or frustration or self-pity. He simply said, “I’ll be back next year, and my life will be better.” I believe him.

You know that it's a tough time to be disabled. It’s a tough time to be an immigrant. It’s a tough time to be a person of color. It’s a tough time to be poor. It's a tough time to be sick.

We all live in echo chambers where everybody acts like us, talks like us, and thinks like us. Every day, we see alternative facts and fake news and Facebook rants and Twitter wars.

Everybody has an opinion about healthcare and immigration and poverty and racism, and nobody knows anything about much of this stuff. But, you know.
Do you know that many immigrants file federal tax returns? You know.
Do you know that many poor folks work three or four jobs? You know.
Do you know that many sick folks choose between paying health insurance and paying rent? You know.
Do you know that half of the children in Texas rely on CHIPS and Medicaid? You know.

A few years ago, I taught school in Africa. It was a life-changing experience that forced me to look outside of my own sheltered life and to realize how much that I take for granted. At the end, a young African man leaned in and asked, “Now that you know, what will you do?”

Hmm. When I ask myself that question, I live my life with more intention and more meaning.

You know (we know) and we have a duty to advocate for justice and mercy and to speak truth to power; to stand up for our clients (our friends) who do not always have a voice.

I appreciate the challenging and important work that you do, and I’m glad that we're friends. I'm glad that you spend your time helping people, especially that you spend your time laughing and crying with the people who need to be laughed and cried with.

Really, I’m glad that we're friends. Thank you for all that you do."